The Benefits of Balance
Balance: a state of equilibrium, steadiness of the body or emotions
Living a balanced life can be challenging but, many times, our thinking―not events themselves―can cause a perceived imbalance.
Let me explain. In the past, teachings or authors had you separate your life into work and personal life, plus many other subsections. Even though those authors were well-meaning, their strategies put another layer of rules and shoulds into your already busy life.
And how do you separate your life into subsections when all the elements of your life are interrelated? I would like to suggest that we don’t have work, health, and personal life; we simply have a life—period. Rather than living your life by rules and arbitrary benchmarks, let me suggest a more common-sense approach to this elusive thing called balance.
What does it mean to live a balanced life? Who gets to decide what is balanced and what is not? Despite all the external pressures and recommendations, YOU are the only one who truly can evaluate whether you have balance in your life.
To do that, you must get rid of some “shoulds.” Shoulds are statements such as you should work out; you should spend X amount of time with your family; you should do X amount of volunteer work . . . and on it goes. To achieve true personal balance, you will need to give up the shoulds.
Please note that unless you take life balance seriously, your fulfillment and enjoyment of life can be gravely impaired. In fact, work-related stress is costing companies billions in worker absenteeism every year.
Research says that over 25% of the North American population is working more than 50 hours a week. My contrarian comment? What’s your point?!
Who said that 50 or 60 hours are too many or that 40 hours are better?
Admittedly, constant time pressures with no schedule flexibility will stress even the most seasoned individual. But if we are all so busy, how can North Americans watch 5 plus hours of TV or being on social media (non-work related) every day?
The issue is much more complex and deeper than the hours you work per week. Life balance has way more to do with what you are doing and how much you love what you are doing. Hey, if you hate what you are doing, 10 hours a week is too many and will completely mess up your equilibrium (life balance).
When we try to separate work from our “life,” that suggests we are working for something other than the joy of doing our work. If we work for the sole purpose of earning the right to do something else other than work, balance becomes very difficult to achieve.
I must confess to being biased about the workweek. I grew up on a dairy farm. My parents worked 10 to 12 hours a day for 14 years without a single day off. Yes, that’s right—14 years. So, when I came home from college wanting one day off every 14 days, my request did not go over well.
My parents felt they had balance. Yes, they would have liked some days off but, overall, they enjoyed their lifestyle.
Balance (feeling emotionally stable) comes from loving what you do. Mother Teresa spent 10 to 14 hours a day with orphans and the less fortunate. If she were here today, would she say she had life balance? Yes!
I worked 50 to 60 hours a week, sometimes more, for years, but I would have felt unbalanced with anything less. My work is my life. It represents my values, passions, purpose, and talents. It is my contribution to others. When I am engaging my purpose, I feel balanced.
What about you? Does what you do in life contribute to your purpose and therefore support your balance?
When I am asked if I have a hobby, I say my work and my motorcycle. That confuses some people. Just today as I write this – I was asked to be a presenter to a business mentoring group. I was ecstatic and honored to be asked. This is energizing for me and must be present for me to feel balanced. Some might think I should be golfing or sailing or taking part in other outdoor activities for relaxation. I do have other interests like motorcycling but fulfilling my purpose to help others is equally as rewarding.
Balance has many aspects. Some people who have a job and family spend 40 hours a week on the golf course. Does that seem balanced?
True life balance is based on rational principles and guidelines, not guilt feelings for all the things you think you should be doing. A key factor that contributes to imbalance is the lack of discretionary time. If your schedule keeps you busy from dawn to dusk, you won’t feel balanced.
Life has ebbs and flows. We need to listen to our bodies, minds, and hearts and do what is needed at the time. A full schedule does not permit that. On the other hand, if nothing is scheduled and your life completely happens by accident, the urgent will override the important, thus making it more difficult to achieve balance.
So how do you strike balance into your life’s equation? Schedule the most important items first—the items that are non-negotiable life balancers for you, no matter what, such as time alone with a family, playing, staying healthy, etc.
Make sure you have discretionary time to be and do things that make you feel balanced. Research shows that you do need to take time off to rejuvenate, reflect, and to enjoy. The amount of time you need is up to you.
True balance comes from living your values in all aspects of your life—and guess what? You can choose what they are for you. Embrace the balance principles that represent a balanced life for you, so you have more wins than losses―more balanced days and weeks than unbalanced ones.
To help you in your journey this week, I recommend that you consider some processes to help you. The Stress Indicator and Health Planner (recently completely updated and revised) will assist you to determine how balanced you really are. The SIHP will help you outline how to improve your life balance today. There is a full ecourse supporting this assessment
Use it with the Values Preference Indicator to confirm your real values and see whether you are actually living them. If you are not, we know you are feeling imbalance and stress. Again a full ecourse supports this assessment.
Finally, complete the Personal Style Indicator so you can embrace your uniqueness and intentionally identify the environments that will bring balance into your life. Or engage the online course that supports this content.
In the end, you get to decide what makes you feel balanced. After all, it is your life!
The Benefits of Balance
- Our lives are not separated into work and personal subsections. We are all simply living a life.
- Balance in your life is ultimately determined by you—not others.
- Do you feel that you have balance in your life? If not, why not?
- Increase your feeling of balance by removing the shoulds in your life.
- What shoulds are causing you guilt? List them now.
- Change your shoulds to the life principles and guidelines that represent balance in your life. Clarify what balance REALLY means to you. Describe it in detail.
- Hours of work per week do not determine balance. Passion, purpose, and fulfillment do. You make the call. Is your work working for you?!
- Balance requires discretionary, unscheduled time. If you have none, change your schedule.
- Balance comes from living your values and playing to your strengths. To confirm them and provide a road map for balance, complete the Stress Indicator and Health Planner, Values Preference Indicator, and the Personal Style Indicator assessment or take the online course that supports that assessment.
- Achieving balance in your life is not a constant. Your degree of balance will likely shift and change over your lifetime. To meet your needs, pay attention to your balance requirements. Just do it.
Until next time, keep Living On Purpose!
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